With insurance rates in B.C. under escalating pressure, in part from the rapidly increasing number of crashes occurring on our roads, the provincial government, ICBC, and police are launching two pilots to explore how technology can help combat distracted driving in our province.
The first pilot—a partnership between government and ICBC—will include up to 200 customers using phone apps paired with telematics. Telematic technology involves fitting a vehicle with a small device that communicates with an app installed on the driver’s cellphone.
The app works to block the use of a handheld device when the in-vehicle technology senses that the vehicle is being driven. The combination of telematics with phone apps typically has allowed insurers to collect driving behaviour data, such as kilometres travelled and average speed. However, for this pilot ICBC is interested in the user’s experience with telematics in their vehicle.
Findings from the pilots will be used to inform future decisions around distracted driving prevention and enforcement, as well as changes to improve the fairness of how insurance rates are set for drivers.
In the coming weeks ICBC will confirm two to three vendors whose technology will be used during the pilot, which is set to launch in January, with results prepared in the spring of 2018. The technology to be used in the pilot was determined to be the most promising based on a review of submissions from a Request for Information ICBC issued in the spring.
For the pilot, ICBC will recruit volunteers from its customer advisory panel. Customers are encouraged to join ICBC’s customer advisory panel through icbc.com for an opportunity to participate in this pilot and future e-surveys to share opinions about ICBC products, services, and policies. ICBC is looking for participants aged 19 years and up, from all across B.C.
The provincial government and ICBC will also be working in partnership with police to conduct an additional pilot to test a new distracted driving enforcement technology beginning in the spring of 2018.
A Bluetooth-enabled scope will be the latest tool police will have on-hand to capture distracted driving. Units will be tested by police in varying weather and traffic conditions for usability and effectiveness.
The scope will capture an image that can be instantly shared with other officers in the immediate area. Officers will then have the ability to show the image to the distracted driver.
These pilots are some of the many actions that government, ICBC, and B.C. police are taking to reduce crashes caused by distracted driving.
“Distracted driving is a high-risk behavior that jeopardizes the safety of drivers and pedestrians alike,” says David Eby, minister responsible for ICBC and Attorney General.
“These pilots are the first step in a thoughtful examination of the role technology can play in preventing distracted driving. I look forward to the results to help us better understand their potential to influence driver behaviour and inform changes so insurance rates are set fairly.”